Peter Drucker once said "Business has only two basic functions: Innovation and marketing." Companies that engage in both religiously include Apple, Nike, and some companies that are not always seen as true 'companies' (but are nevertheless highly successful) such as our military.
"Our military?" you may ask in surprise.
Over a couple decades the military went from being perceived as something most young people would avoid to something that helps pay for college, gives status, and builds a solid work ethic. Their public relations campaign has made it possible for the military to continue without a draft, and it certainly makes their recruiters' jobs easier.
Your Customer Needs to Decide if They Like You
Public relations doesn't always show immediate results. But according to CEB, Inc., "Buyers are 57% through the purchasing process before they engage sales." That means that what they see first makes all the difference.
If you don't have your marketing and public relations outreach in place then you've already lost many of your customers. These titans are the quiet-running gears behind the scenes that keep customers interested and informed.
Public Relations is the Chocolate
When I speak in public, I always mention Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: "Two great tastes that taste great together."
Hey, no doubt: I call first dibs on the chocolate side. But the magic of Reese's is that both flavors are just so complimentary! Yeah, that makes marketing ... peanut butter. But hey! It's peanut butter! We all love peanut butter almost as much as chocolate, so I don't want to hear any of my marketing friends complaining about this. (Incidentally, guys, I've done a ton of marketing in my checkered past and I think we can all agree that we'd take the peanut butter analogy over other things we've been called).
You need both peanut butter and chocolate to make one of the most divine candies in the world (I mean seriously - it's the American version of Godiva chocolate and I don't want to hear any argument). And you also need a good public relations campaign to compliment your marketing efforts.
You're Just Saying That Because You're in PR
Well, no doubt we all want to think we're special. But some people only think they are. We know we are.
Look: How many of us get to have our cake and eat it too? But if you're doing it right, public relations is how you get into earned media. Marketing is media you pay someone to print or display. And marketing materials should be mentioning your PR wins every time you have one. This way PR pays for itself twice. See? You can have your cake and eat it too.
What if I Have a Limited Budget?
I totally get that. Who doesn't have a limited budget, right?
There's a young millionaire who told me he doesn't like being labeled a millionaire because he still makes himself lunches that he takes to work every day. His money has all been reinvested in his businesses and not in himself.
Businesses can be money pits! You invest everything you've got in them and rent and payroll and utilities and all the other bills are still coming in every month. It makes me panicky just to remember how nerve-wracking that can be.
But say you open a newspaper today, or go online as I do every morning. And when you do, you'll click on that article you want to read. You'll definitely see some pesky ads. You may glance at them, you may not. But I'm willing to bet that you make very few purchasing decisions from seeing one of those ads.
However, the article has a quote from a key opinion leader, and she didn't get into that article by accident. You will forget those ads, but you won't forget that opinion leader or that quote she makes that hits you between the eyes. In fact, you might share that article!
Moz.com reports "There are...specific content types that do have a strong positive correlation of shares and links. This includes research backed content and opinion forming journalism. We found these content formats achieve both higher shares and significantly more links."
Your chances of being seen are far better with a quality public relations campaign. Even marketing firms use PR because they understand the value of the investment.
Instead of asking "Can I afford to keep that public relations team?" you need to be asking "How can I afford not to?"